Electric Dreams – Blu-Ray Review

This isn’t the Philip K. Dick series Electric Dreams that’s expected later this year. Instead, it’s the 80s cheesefest.

Electric Dreams was the first film directed by Steve Barron, who was incredibly influential as a maker of music videos (A-Ha’s ‘Take on Me,’ Michael Jackson’s ‘Billie Jean,’ etc.)  and films in the 80s. His style certainly made a visual mark at the time, especially with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which was very successf for an independent film.

It stars Lenny van Dohlan as Miles, a nerdy architect who gets a computer, which he connects to all his appliances in an early echo of the ‘Internet of Things.’ He then meets his cello-playing neighbour Madeline, played by Virginia Madsden, a great actress who dropped out of sight for awhile after a spate of teen movies in the 80s until her comeback in Sideways. The computer becomes sentient and starts trying to have an online affair with Madeline, in competition with Miles, who is trying to have a real relationship with her.

The best things about the film are the voice of the computer—Bud Cort during the period when he was mostly doing voiceover work—and the Giorgio Moroder-Philip Oakey theme song, “Together in Electric Dreams,” which was a great piece of 80s pop. It’s a quintessential 80s film in every way, and ends with a big musical number. As Barron himself has said, Electric Dreams was definitely an attempt to try and weave the early eighties music video genre into a movie.” It was one of Virgin Films’ productions, and that company later attempted something similar with Julien Temple’s Absolute Beginners.

It’s also quite fun seeing what people in the ‘80s believed computers would be able to do—which have (luckily) never quite come to be.

The disc includes a variety of interviews, including with the director, the writer and the stars.


Ian Schultz

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